The ‘City on Fire’ Opening Titles Use Real White-Out and Glue to Tap Into a 2000’s DIY Look

Posted inComics & Animation Design

We’re not shy about our love affair with opening title sequences here at PRINT, and lucky for us, we live in a time where there’s no shortage of TV eye candy in which to indulge. One of the most recent credit rolls that have caught our eye is that of the new Apple TV+ crime drama City on Fire.

Based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Garth Risk Hallberg, the murder mystery limited series is set in early 2000’s NYC, featuring the convergence of citywide fires, the underground music scene, and a wealthy upstate family. This seedy subject matter and tone is portrayed with precision in the show’s opening title sequence executed by the team over at Imaginary Forces.

Led by IF Creative Directors Karin Fong and Rob Slychuk, the studio honed in on a frenetic graphic style to reflect the mounting chaos and unease of the show, as well as the Y2K era in which it’s set. The collage-style motion graphics and pixelated hues were created using white-out, felt pens, and glue. The spunky, hand-drawn typefaces used for each credit allude to the gritty punk rock zine culture of the time, with a Xerox machine used to ominously illuminate each frame. The images are brought to life by a dramatic soundtrack that amplifies the queasy sense of impending doom.

City on Fire was created by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz and stars Chase Sui Wonders, Jemima Kirke, Wyatt Oleff, and Nico Tortorella. The eight-episode limited series premiered on May 12, with new episodes released every Friday.

Creative Directors: Karin Fong, Rob Slychuk

Designer/Animator: Henry Chang, Max Strizich, Anna Chen, Rob Slychuk

Designer: Kathy Liang

Editor: Lexi Gunvaldson

Additional Illustration: Sara Gunnarsdóttir

Intern: Karry Lee

Senior Creative Producer: Renee Robson

Coordinator: Jackson Kerr

Music: Jason Hill